Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guest Post - Jamie Leigh Haden

When asked the question "what's most important to your writing?", here's what Jamie had to say:

When I first began to think about this question, I definitely knew that legends and history, not myths were the most important to my writing. However, I was mystified because legends and history are certainly intertwined in the retelling of Native American stories. There was no way I could separate the two. As a Cherokee writer, I do believe that Native American legends are a central role in American History.

Indeed, legends are stories that have been handed down and yet, they are historical in that they all have have evolved with time. Spirit Seeker takes place on Silence and Cave, two remote barrier islands, off the coast of North Carolina. The stories of the people on these islands are historical legends because the retelling of the tales is one way the culture of the island people have been kept alive. There is a profound relationship between the story teller and the listener. So much of traditional Native American spirituality deals with ancestors. If it weren’t for the retelling of the stories, the past would be lost.

The legends that I write about in Spirit Seeker, are not necessarily based on historical Native Americans like Geronimo or Sequoya (even though Geronimo and Sequoya are of course legends). Instead, the legends that the island old timers still tell are the ones passed by word of mouth alone, and deal mostly with spirit animals. Hence, the totem poles.

Totem poles are a major part of Native American History.

Native American tradition stipulates that each person is connected to nine different animals in life. These animals serve as guides that appear in our lives, as we need them. The totem animal, in particular, is one that is with you for life. It is the main spirit guide. This animal offers wisdom to the individual. It is not necessarily an animal that you have to nurture and feed. It is more important that you learn the lessons in life that the animal has come to teach. However, finding and searching for a spirit guide is not always the easiest thing to do. This quest can at times, be extremely difficult. Especially if danger lurks in the night.

Nevertheless, with each totem animal, there is a legend and a lesson to be offered. Certainly, there is a legend for the creation of the Universe, and a legend for the Creation of man. There is also a legend that is dying to be told to Talisa Santiago, the heroine in Spirit Seeker. Once Talisa understands what she is capable of doing do, she realizes that there is no turning back.

Talisa Santiago is the granddaughter of a shaman. She is haunted by desire and willing to do the unthinkable. Oh, the stories this girl can tell—especially to those who dare to listen. The relationship between story teller and listener is a profound one indeed!

About the Author: Jamie Leigh Haden is the author of Spirit Seeker, a young adult fantasy. Jamie lives and writes near the seashore in North Carolina. She has a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. Jamie is currently working on An Unimagined Life, the sequel to Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.

Connect with Jamie. 

About the Book: Life is strange and difficult for the granddaughter of a shaman. Sixteen-year-old Talisa Santiago was born in the desert underneath the full moon in January-the wolf moon. However, she left the desert with her mother when she was a young girl. She remembers bits and pieces of her past but it isn't until she and her mom move to a remote barrier island off the coast of North Carolina that she feels fate has finally called-secretive and mysterious he stands alone on the edge of the bank.

Her friends tell her to stay away; she hears rumors that he is dangerous. Still, she can't resist. Whether Talisa realizes it or not, she knows a thing or two about boys like Jag Chavez. Fate is funny that way. For the first time in her life, Talisa meets kids just like her-Native Americans who know the ways of the spirit. The closer she gets to Jag, the more she realizes he is hiding a dark secret. He may have the markings of the Thunderbird, but he is named for the powerful Jaguar. Together they embark on a journey that will haunt her forever.

Spirit Seeker is available now on Nook and Kindle.

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